On January 4, 1962, the Board of Directors of North Suburban Synagogue Beth El established the Kol Ami Collection. It was the dream of Maurice and Badona Spertus who donated many works that form the core of the collection. On March 8, 2002, the museum was dedicated by Ellen and Arnold Rissman as the Arnold Rissman Family Kol Ami Museum, in honor of their children, Lauren, Aron and Jacob, “with hope for the future.”
Today, the Rissman Kol Ami Collection includes the many art works and ritual objects displayed throughout the building and used by the congregation. Its mission is “to accept, collect and preserve objects of Jewish ceremonial art, articles of folklore, manuscripts and documents of historical value, in order to illustrate the biography and demography of the Jewish people from a spiritual and artistic point of view, reflecting the religious and cultural mode of life in the past and present.”
The diverse collection encompasses works from the 18th century to modern times that come from many countries around the world. The collection consists of paintings, sculptures, prints, rare books and Judaic ritual objects such as menorahs, spice boxes, crowns, rimonim (Torah finials), pointers, breast plates and a unique tik (Torah case).
The gallery area features objects from the collection as well as visiting exhibits throughout the year.
Visit the Rissman Kol Ami Collection and see some of its treasures.
Current Exhibit: My Family Story Projects and People, Book, Land – The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People to the Holy Land (March 11-May 5, 2019)
For the seventh year in a row, students in the Jack and Mildred Cohen Religious School’s Kitah Vav (6th Grade) participated in the My Family Story program as part of Beit Hatfutsot’s annual competition. The students embarked on a journey to the past – an exploration of their family roots going back three generations. The main goal of the project is to connect students to their personal stories, to their family stories, and to their story within the greater story of the Jewish People. Students worked all year on preparing their final projects, which are designed to represent their family stories in three-dimensional formats. The projects, including the two winning entries — by Hannah Ayzman and Adam Smiley — are on display.
People, Book, Land – The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People to the Holy Land, a historical exhibit developed by The Simon Wiesenthal Center and co-sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), was designed to be a tool in the ongoing fight against the current resurgence of anti-Semitism.